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Background:

  • I plan to travel to Lötschental in Switzerland for a few weeks and would like to have mobile internet for my laptop
    • (and optimally also for the phone - but this has lower priority).
  • I am from Germany.
  • My laptop does have a SIM card slot. I haven't tried it yet, but I would assume that I can use it.
  • My minimum requirement would be 10 Gbyte data volume with something like 5Mbit/s bandwidth. Optimally, it would be a flatrate.

My research so far:

As far as I understand I can't buy a SIM card for the phone if I am not Swiss (I was told so when I was in Interlaken). Currently, the best option I found is: https://digitalrepublic.ch/en/privatkunden-usecases/laptop/. It seems they offer a SIM card

Even smaller plans seem reasonable:

Flat 10 with 10 Mbit/s download and 5 Mbit/s upload is sufficient. If you need to send larger amounts of data in a short time, we recommend using the next higher data package Flat 50 with 50 Mbit/s download and 25 Mbit/s upload

Coverage can be checked here: https://www.sunrise.ch/de/privatkunden/mobil-abos/mobilnetz/netzabdeckung/netzabdeckungskarte.html. It seems that my target valley (Lötschental) does have coverage.

Question:

Does someone has experience with mobile internet in Switzerland as a foreigner and hints for me which product to purchase?

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    For anyone wondering, despite EU roaming rules covering non-EU countries in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), they do not cover Switzerland. – Jacob Bundgaard Aug 13 at 21:03
  • I find Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki to be a pretty good starting point for research fo most countries. – yeputons Aug 13 at 22:41
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    @JacobBundgaard While that is indeed true, some providers still provide correponding coverage in Switzerland. I know at least most providers in France do, as well as at least Vodafone in UK, which are usually cheaper than Swiss providers. But for Germany, from my brief search, only Telekom seems to include CH for EU-equivalent roaming. – zhantongz Aug 13 at 23:39
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    The easiest most flexible most laissez-faire is LEBARA. All politicians, criminals, backpackers etc. use Lebara. The best coverage is Swisscom. The person who told you you can't buy a card was utterly mistaken, nonsensical. – Fattie Aug 14 at 10:26
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    Don't assume that your laptop has a cellular modem. Lot's of models ships with sim card slot, and cellular modem as a (pricey) extra, only included in top models. Check and verify that you have a cellular modem / WWAN-card in your laptop. – vidarlo Aug 14 at 12:56
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It is not correct that you cannot buy a SIM Card if you are not Swiss. You can, and many do every day.

The best coverage in Switzerland is offered by Swisscom (especially in more remote areas). Sunrise has good coverage as well.

With Sunrise you can get a PAYG SIM for free, and then you pay CHF 1.20 per day for internet.

Note that a bandwidth of 10 Gbit/s is something that is only achievable with fiber optics at the moment. You are probably confusing bandwidth with data volume.

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    sry, yes i mean data volume. – Tonio Liebrand Aug 13 at 11:36
  • @TonioLiebrand And you probably also mean Gigabyte and not Gigabit. – Nobody Aug 13 at 21:06
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    @Nobody That's my fault; I edited both the question and answer to correct the confusion between bandwidth (in Gsomething/s) and volume (in Gsomething) and use Gbit across the board because that's typically how bandwidth is measured. You are obviously right that data plans are typically advertised in Gigabyte. – Relaxed Aug 14 at 9:34
  • Also here, it's worth mentioning Salt, which is significantly cheaper and still provides good coverage in the vast majority of places. I've been using it for 5+ years and only had two occasions where Swisscom had some (weak) coverage and Salt didn't. Both times it was in remote places in the mountains. – Cedric Reichenbach Aug 14 at 16:40
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Depending on your german provider, you can get a roaming package for Switzerland.

As far as I know, Telekom includes Switzerland in der general roaming package. Other providers offer additional roaming packages for all parts of the world. They are often marketed as travel packages and are valid for a week or a month. Getting such a package for a few weeks is probably easier and cheaper than getting a Swiss SIM card.

This is what I use, living in Germany close to the Swiss boarder and traveling there frequently for work.

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    +1. Definitely check your existing plan, and your existing provider for roaming / upgrade packages, you might be lucky. You'll likely not get a second SIM for your laptop that way, though, and will have to tether it to your phone. – Jörg W Mittag Aug 14 at 9:16
  • @JörgWMittag Interesting, why not? I have two SIM cards tapping into the same data plan, happily using the second one in a mobile access point while roaming all over Europe. That's a standard service for my French operator (with a small one-time fee when you set it up for the first time). (+1 to the answer, good tip) – Relaxed Aug 14 at 9:40
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    It sounds like the OP does currently have only one SIM card, since they say they don't even know whether the SIM card slot in their laptop is working. Additional SIM cards are usually a separate package, and not included in any roaming package, at least in my experience. But I have never needed it since my laptop does have a SIM card slot, but doesn't have a UMTS card installed, so the SIM card slot isn't connected to anything :-D – Jörg W Mittag Aug 14 at 9:43
  • @JörgWMittag Obviously you have to set it up at some point but I was wondering if that was really unavailble in Germany as you wrote the OP was not likely to get one. My experience in another country was exactly the opposite, it was an easy process and it definitely allows roaming. To be clear, I am not talking about getting an extra package (which is also available of course) but a secondary SIM tied to the same package. – Relaxed Aug 14 at 15:00
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Whoever told you you can't buy a SIM card as a foreigner was lying to you.

Swisscom has unequivocally the best coverage, so if you're going to be staying somewhere away from major cities/ places, I'd go with Swisscom. Sunrise is second best in terms of coverage, and they're a little more expensive but offer better benefits. And lastly you have Salt, they have the worst coverage, are as expensive as Swisscom base and internet will cost you a pretty penny.

Here's a short comparison:

  • Swisscom (prepaid info here)

    • 2 CHF per day to surf the internet with up 10 Mbit/s download and 2 Mbit/s upload up to 10 GB where the speeds drop
    • 0.29 CHF per minute for calls
    • 0.15 CHF per SMS within Switzerland and abroad
  • Sunrise (prepaid info here)

    • 2.50 CHF per day to surf the internet with up to 300 Mbit/s download and 150 Mbit/s upload
    • Unlimited calls and SMS to all Swiss landline and mobile networks, but 0.25 CHF per SMS going abroad
    • 20 CHF activation fee for the SIM card, but it includes a free credit of 25 CHF on your prepaid plan

There is also the option of going with something like Lycamobile, Migros M-Budget prepaid or Coop prepaid, but I personally cannot recommend any of them as I haven't any experience with their service

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    This is misleading. First, Swisscom is significantly more expensive than the other two providers. It's hard to give exact numbers due to different pricing models, but for certain configurations Salt is easily 50% cheaper than Swisscom. Second, any provider has good coverage pretty much everywhere except for very remote places (such as mountain tops or remote mountain valleys). It highly depends on one's needs, but in my experience, Salt has provided the best value for money in the past few years. – Cedric Reichenbach Aug 14 at 16:37
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For my Swiss sim I use lyca mobile. Its easy to get hold of and buy packs that give you a certain amount gb for the month.

I basically never phone people so it fit me perfectly as all I wanted was internet. I believe you can order it before even going to Switzerland. It can also be bought in papershops in Switzerland.

IIRC there was a little bit of work at first having to fill in a form and get someone in a shop to register it for me, but overall a much better option than paying 40 francs a month for swiss com or the others.

Stear clear of proper mobile phone shops and look to the little immigrant focussed papershops and you'll be sorted. A foreign ID is fine.

https://www.lycamobile.ch/en/

Also worth looking into are lebara mobile, who do basically the same thing. There may be one or two others too.

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One thing to keep in mind: Only Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom have an actual mobile network, all other providers use one of those.

A good place to look for mobile phone products is Comparis, it allows to find good offerings based on your call/data profile.

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I use Lebara, though there are several other providers which offer a prepaid service. You can buy a SIM at any post office, you will need to present some form of identification (Ausweis). The basic SIM costs under CHF 20. You can get a monthly data plan for CHF 15 or so. The procedure is painless. Some post offices even carry inexpensive (CHF 20-50) phones locked to one or another prepaid service. I have a lot of cheap phones I use to connect to free WLAN services (SBB, Migros, Coop, etc.)

You do not need to be Swiss, nor a resident. I used Lebara before I was a Swiss citizen.

To top off, I normally do it at the ticket machine at an SBB railway station. Here you simply enter the telephone number +76 .... and the amount you wish to add (say CHF 20). It might not work with a credit card, it will not work with a REKA card.

Lastly, the Lebara here is incompatible with Lebara UK or Lebara DK.

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  • Is this a 'long term contract' or a prepaid or short term option? – Willeke Aug 15 at 10:46

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